GANGA RIVER

GANGES

INTRODUCTION

The Ganges is the largest river in India with a profound religious significance. It is known by several names, including Jahnavi, Gange, Shubhra, Sapteshwari, Nikita, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, and Vishnupadi. Nothing can match the ever-lasting divinity of the holy River Ganga; the sacred river is a true mother by all means.

HISTORY

Bhagiratha was a legendary king of the Ikshvaku dynasty. He brought the River Ganga to Earth from the heavens because only shecould bestow nirvana to Bhagiratha’s ancestors who were cursed by Sage Kapila. After years of great penance, River Ganga descended on Earth and Lord Shiva agreed to channelize her flow. Therefore, River Ganga flowed from Lord Shiva’s hair. The place where the sacred river originated is known as Gangotri in present times, and since the river originated from Lord Shiva’s Jata (hair) it is also called Jatashankari. 

While flowing, the Ganga demolished the ashram of sage Jahna who became furious and stopped her movement. On Bhagirath’s appeal, the sage freed her; therefore, Ganga is also called Jahnavi. The Ganga then reached sage Kapil’s ashram, where Bhagirath’s ancestors were burnt to ashes and liberated to rest in peace.

HOLY RIVER

The Ganga is the only river that flows from all the three worlds – Heaven/Swarga, Earth/Prithvi, and Hell/Patala. The person who has traveled to all three worlds is addressed as Tripathaga in the Sanskrit language. 

In Hinduism, the holy River Ganga is personified and personalized as the Goddess Ganga. The followers of the Hindu religion believe that bathing in the pious Ganga can help wash all sins. People also believe that a mere touch of the river can help attain moksha (salvation) and so the ashes of the dead are immersed in the sacred river.

THE GANGA AARTI

The famous Ganga Aarti takes place at twilight every day and is an incredibly moving ceremony. All the ghats are filled with the aroma of flowers and the fragrance of incense sticks. Several priests perform this ritual by carrying deepam and moving it up and down in a rhythmic tune of bhajans. Many Sodha Travelers have communicated that the Aarti was a profound highlight of their Indian experience, and we agree!

THE GANGA GHATS

 A ghat is a series of steps that lead to the river, and Hindus believe that bathing in Ganga is truly auspicious and will wash away all sins. Travelers often visit these ghats to bathe and witness the funeral rites. A funeral ghat is a place where families gather to cremate the bodies of their loved ones. Later, their ashes are offered to the river. The Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi is a famous funeral ghat. 

“GANGA TO ME IS THE SYMBOL OF INDIA’S MEMORABLE PAST WHICH HAS BEEN FLOWING INTO PRESENT AND CONTINUES TO FLOW TOWARDS THE OCEAN OF THE FUTURE”

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